“We live now in hard times, not end times (Jon Stewart, the Rally to Restore Sanity, Washington DC, October 30, 2010).”
Attending the rally has restored my faith in the American people. Throughout the day, packed like sardines in our nation’s capital, everybody was in an upbeat and wonderful mood. Angry protests, hateful rants or even nasty signage were entirely absent. The signs I saw, with the exception of two, were light-hearted and creative. There were plenty of laughs throughout the day and everybody was generous and kind with one another and strikingly, boringly normal. The sheer numbers of attendees made me think, ‘wow, maybe most Americans are really thoughtful and reasonable after all.’
“The country’s 24 hour politico pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.
The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus illuminating issues heretofore unseen, or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire. And then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden unexpected dangerous flaming ants epidemic.
If we amplify everything, we hear nothing (Jon Stewart, Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear).”
A conservative commentator stated that the massive audience was made up of DC locals, whereas, in their opinion, the Beck rally was filled with people from across America (“real” Americans). My view: the shuttle bus we took to the rally had one guy from Canada, one guy from Belgium, a couple from Colorado, three people from North Carolina and two from Kentucky who were most definitely opposed to head stomping as a form of political discourse. All the people I spoke to in the crowd had traveled great distances to come to the rally. Many were from California. I did not meet a single person from Washington DC until I was on the Metro back to my hotel.
A liberal columnist thought the rally was all about liberals trying to prove they are smarter than conservatives (1). The crowd was refreshingly intelligent, but I never got the impression that their aim was to score any one-upmanship.
Most of the major news television stations offered thirty second summaries, which basically dismissed the entire event as a comedy show. They must have missed the lesson in High School English class where the “fool” is an archetypal bearer of wisdom and truth. Read Shakespeare people.
To ABC’s credit, This Week with Christiane Amanpour dedicated their round table discussion to what they determined to be the rally’s theme – civil discourse. And civil discourse was certainly part of the day’s take home message, but sadly or deliberately ABC seemed to miss the most obvious point. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a direct commentary on our current political situation and how the media filters information to invoke sensation and fear. Hundreds of thousands of people coming together in the interest of sanity and reasonableness speaks boldly to an American electorate suffering from sensational media fatigue and desperately seeking meaningful political commentary.
In reality, we all see the world through our own lens of truth, and we all have our own agenda. Writer Derrick Jensen notes that all writing is propaganda, as no two individuals can see a view of the world in exactly the same way (2). We all amplify the details that are most important to us while simultaneously ignoring those things we either don’t want to acknowledge or are simply too distracted to see. Media is like us, but it also distorts perspective to an extreme because media has a rabid agenda. Television news shows need viewers to be able to get corporate sponsorship, so they sensationalize to get our attention. They are also then limited to a large extent by those same sponsors from publicizing anything that might be in conflict with the corporate agenda. The resultant media messages are often like holographic images reflecting reality but still a false imitation of it.
Because truth is in the eye of the beholder, we should not just take anyone else’s words at face value. We must seek truth for ourselves by turning off the mind-numbing TV and instead becomming active participants in life, taking in as much information as possible from as many sources as possible and drawing our own conclusions. If we could all step back from the media circus and do this, sanity would be restored in the United States of America.
2- See Endgame Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization by Derrick Jensen.